Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Impact of Black Gospel Music on Popular Culture, Pt. 1

The Impact of Black Gospel Music on Popular Culture:
CL Franklin, Aretha Franklin, Kirk Franklin, and Beyond, Pt.1

Black gospel music historically has had a profound positive impact upon American culture, and indeed the world. During the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 60s, gospel music made a significant impact in helping rid this nation of discrimination and segregation. Black gospel music birthed soul music that contained themes of love, unity, uplift, and empowerment. This short blog series will examine the impact of postmodernism upon the entertainment industry, particularly gospel and secular music, and the impacts gospel music has had upon society across the eras of "the Franklins," C.L. Franklin, Aretha Franklin, Kirk Franklin, and beyond.

In the 1960’s black artists began calling a new genre of music birthed from gospel music “soul music.” Soul music had such far-reaching effects that not only did people get on the gospel train, but they also got on the groundbreaking television dance show, Soul Train, the hippest trip in America. Arthur Craig Werner chronicled the rise and fall of American soul music in the book, Higher Ground, which examined the personal and professional histories of entertainment icons Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield. Describing the impact of gospel music on secular entertainment, Werner explains, “Insisting that people take the Bible and the Declaration of Independence seriously, the gospel vision was intent on changing the world. That was the good news the singers sang on high and the movement brought down to earth” (Werner, 2004, p. 3).PART 1: C.L. FRANKLIN

R&B and soul legend Aretha Franklin is known affectionately as "the Queen of Soul." The "Queen" had a father who knew the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The father of Aretha Franklin was the renowned Detroit preacher Rev. Clarence Lavaughn Franklin. C.L. Franklin was very influential in his own right. He ascended to preaching heights in the mid 1940s at the same time C.S. Lewis published Abolition of Man. C.L. Franklin pastored New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit that grew to between three and four thousand, and he served as the president of the National Baptist Convention. Harry Belafonte called him a super whooper. Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, Sam Cooke, James Cleveland, and B. B. King visited him regularly. Future Supreme Mary Wilson and her family attended New Bethel. Gospel music played a pivotal roles in worship services reflecting Franklin's philosophy that it "mends the broken heart, raises the bowed down head, and gives hope to the weary traveler" (Werner, 2009, p. 23). Many of the soul, jazz, and blues artists of that era made it a point to attend church to hear Rev. Franklin preach. Blues great B.B. King remarked about Franklin, “Listening to Reverend Franklin’s messages was like listening to a good sermon. You felt hope” (Werner, Ibid).

How her father influenced her musical style, Aretha stated, "Most of what I learned vocally came from him. He gave me a sense of timing in music and timing is important in everything." (Werner, p. 26).

(Excerpt from my research paper , THE INFLUENCE OF POSTMODERN-THOUGHT IN MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT, February 2013.)

The Impact of Black Gospel Music on Popular Culture, Pt. 2


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